ISLAMABAD: The army on Thursday announced successful ‘training launch’ of tactical ballistic missile Nasr, saying that it had augmented the country’s full spectrum deterrence.
“Pakistan today successfully conducted training launch of short range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Nasr to enhance the operational efficiency of Army Strategic Forces Command besides re-validating the desired technical parameters,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
One of the features of the latest test was that the missile was fired in a salvo of four missiles, which experts say represents a technological feat.
The 70km range Nasr missile, the ISPR said, “is a high precision, shoot and scoot Weapon System with the ability of in-flight manoeuvrability”.
The launch was witnessed by General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Director General Strategic Plans Division, Army Strategic Forces Command commander, and NESCOM chairman, as well as senior officers from the Army Strategic Forces Command, and scientists and engineers of strategic organisations.
Pakistan had inducted the Nasr missile in its strategic arsenal in 2017 and its first training launch was held in July 2017. Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa had on that occasion said: “Nasr has put cold water on cold start.”
Introduced in April 2011, Nasr was developed in response to India’s cold start doctrine, the existence of which was officially confirmed by Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat. The tactical nuclear weapon system, it is said, is meant to deny space to India for conventional conflict below the nuclear threshold.
An expert said that Nasr had achieved its deterrence effect even before its formal induction.
Notwithstanding Pakistan’s assertions that Nasr is a “weapon of peace”, its detractors have criticised its development and claimed that it could lower the threshold of nuclear use.
Critics also feared about its security. The government has been under pressure, particularly from the United States, to limit the Nasr programme. The pressure was, however, rejected by the National Command Authority and the programme continued.
It is said Nasr, which has a short range and lower trajectory in addition to the capability to manoeuvre is ideally suited to defeat India’s planned ballistic missile defence.
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2019